Labrador represents a significant portion of the breeding range for the Northwest Atlantic population of the Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus). The region comprises almost 300,000 km of wilderness area with habitat for breeding, molting and staging activity. The wilderness quality of Labrador has also posed several challenges in terms of understanding the status of this species. Expensive and logistically-challenging survey programs have only recently (i.e., last 20 years) targeted Harlequin Ducks but due to the co-ordination amongst agencies and proponents, an appreciation of the range, numbers, and timing of movements for this species in Labrador has been developed. Over 800 helicopter survey hours have been completed on at least 111 river systems/sections during late May-early June (July in northern-most areas) from 1987-2008. Presence of the species was widespread and confirmed on approximately 67% of areas examined. It is estimated that 395 breeding pairs occur on rivers where presence has been confirmed and the majority of potential habitat for this species has been examined in Labrador. The actual number of breeding pairs, their success and other population limiting factors remain unclear. Regardless, Harlequin Ducks are common in Labrador and the population appears to be stable or increasing.
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Vol. 31 • No. sp2